New video from Kanye West and Jay-Z

Here’s the new video for “No Church in the Wild.”

Underground Rapper of the Week: Sean Anonymous

Underground Rapper of the Week is a new feature designed to raise awareness of rappers from all over the world who, if that world were a perfect place, would be more famous than they are. It will be updated every Tuesday before the sun goes down. Feel free to email suggestions of slept-on rappers from your city or wherever to: ezra.stead@gmail.com

Undoubtedly one of the most gifted and hard-working emcees in the Midwest, Minneapolis’s Sean Anonymous has been steadily on his grind for at least the past seven years now, since joining the Twin Cities crew Wide Eyes in 2005. Having toured extensively throughout the U.S. as a solo act and with a variety of other groups – including Wide Eyes, Death Ray Scientific and Bottom Feeders – Anonymous is now poised to take on even greater acclaim with his upcoming solo EP, Anonymo, produced by DJ Corbett and set to drop in June.

Even before the release of their first EP, Situation, in early 2008, Wide Eyes was a force to be reckoned with in the Twin Cities’ Hip-Hop scene because of their intense and energetic live show. Anonymous in particular is known for a stage presence that can best be described as “wildin’ out,” as he truly puts his whole body and mind into every live show. In his best performances, Anonymous often appears to be on the verge of exploding, but at the same time never loses focus as he delivers intricate, versatile flows with a rapid-fire delivery that remains accessible even at its most technically challenging. This summer, you can catch him performing live at the Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Bonnor Springs, and Maryland Heights stops on the Vans Warped Tour.

Perfectly complementing the rest of Wide Eyes – fellow emcee Tony Phantom and producers Dimitry Killstorm and DJ Name – with his sound, Anonymous can’t help but stand out on certain tracks, such as his mind-boggling first verse on “Borrowed Time,” from the 2009 Wide Eyes album, Hands Tied (pay close attention beginning at about 0:56 to hear how hard he goes in). Since the release of that video, Anonymous has been hard at work capitalizing on the advantages of this visual medium with stellar new videos for “Fast Forward” and the upcoming Anonymo track “Hot to Death” (coming in August), both directed by Dave Wilson.

The great thing about the music of Wide Eyes is how simultaneously old school and forward-thinking it is, with undeniably head-nodding production by Killstorm and Name layered under thoughtful but gritty flows by Anonymous and Phantom. Anonymous has also found success collaborating with other notable Twin Cities emcees Spy MC and Shelltoe in the darkly humorous group Bottom Feeders, and shows great comfort joining in live performances with some of the finest underground rappers in the nation, such as Ohio’s Blueprint, L.A.’s Abstract Rude (both of whom will be guest-starring on Anonymo), Chicago’s Phillip Morris and Juice, Minneapolis’s own MaLLy, Toki Wright and many more. Incidentally, Anonymous is one of the friendliest and most approachable emcees you’re likely to meet, and his goofy, unpredictable sense of humor is especially evident in his latest music video, “Name Droppin,” which you should watch at least twice below.

4 Mobile Apps for Exploring New Musical Artists

There are two types of music lover – diehard fans and the casual listener. Both types of music fans love to stay up-to-date on their favorite recording artists and bands. In the past, staying up-to-date on the latest news and information in the industry required expensive subscriptions to music industry magazines, or long hours searching the Internet for updates. Luckily with the help of smartphones staying up to date on the latest news, updates, and song releases has gotten easier.


Image Courtesy of Flickr

There are dozens of available mobile apps that can help music lovers get the latest and most up-to-date information on their favorite artists and bands. The following is a look at some of the top mobile apps every music lover should have downloaded on their best cell phones, Android phones, or other handheld devices.

Amazon Cloud Player

Music lovers have the ability to instantly play files that have been downloaded to Amazon Cloud storage. Amazon Cloud storage allows music lovers to save numerous files on a remote computer server that can be accessed from anywhere, at any time. When the Amazon Cloud Player is downloaded, you’ll be able to instantly pull-up favorite songs and files, and play them right on your smartphone.

Rdio

Imagine the music world and social media world combining, and that is what you get with the Rdio app. The Rdio mobile app allows music lovers to follow what friends and family members are listening to or reading. This is a great app for people who like to explore new and hidden talents in the musical world, as you never know who your friends might be following.

The Rdio mobile app gives listeners the ability to pull-up and listen to several song tracks and playlists. In addition to the pre-loaded song lists and tracks, Rdio works with artist-created stations, iTunes, and other music storage apps, allowing you to have instant access to thousands of songs and artists.

Slacker Radio

If you have ever wanted to explore the uncharted territory of the musical world, Slacker Radio is the app for you. Slacker Radio allows you to input favorite musical genres and artists that you like. That information will then be used to create a customized station that plays music from numerous artists – some of which you’ve probably never heard. Each musical station has been customized by music experts who know and live the music industry, which means that you won’t find random songs that don’t belong on this mobile app. This is a great way to allow yourself to find new artists in musical genres that you like to listen too.


Last.fm

What if you could get custom music recommendations sent right to your own phone? That is exactly what the Last.fm mobile app does. It tracks what you listen to both on your mobile device and on Internet radio stations, and then creates a customized list of artists and songs it believes you would like to listen too. It’s a great way to explore new artists without having to do the legwork to find them.

The music industry is vast and filled with hundreds of artists and bands. Use these mobile apps to listen and explore the world of music.

R.I.P. Robin Gibb

We’ve had way too many of these R.I.P. posts lately. It’s depressing when we lose great artists.

Robin Gibb was a class act, and with the Bee Gees he helped define the disco era. Disco was already huge when Saturday Night Fever was released, and the “death to disco” roar was already out there. But then it exploded with the movie and the soundtrack. This song was the anthem.

Of course there was much more to the Bee Gees than disco, but this is what they’ll be remembered for. Fortunately, the backlash waned as disco evolved into hip hop and the sounds of 80s dance music.

Underground Rapper of the Week: Phillip Morris

Underground Rapper of the Week is a new feature designed to raise awareness of rappers from all over the world who, if that world were a perfect place, would be more famous than they are. It will be updated every Tuesday before the sun goes down. Feel free to email suggestions of slept-on rappers from your city or wherever to: ezra.stead@gmail.com

Chicago-based international emcee Phillip Morris is in a league of his own in so many ways. He celebrates his nerdiness on tracks like “Must Be a Nerd” and “Get Your Nerd On,” but he is not to be pegged as “nerdcore” by any means, and he goes harder than most gangsta rappers on tracks like “Words Are Gunshots” and “True Calligraphy.” He’s an undeniably charming ladies man who actively cautions women to stay away from himself and any other performers on tracks like “Trouble is My Middle Name,” while acknowledging that “I got no swag, so I understand that it must be the words.” He is an unapologetically party-oriented rapper who is also a well-informed activist – see “Pass Me a Light” for the former and “Revolution Knows No Compromise” for the latter.

By the way, that “international emcee” moniker is no joke. Morris has played all over the United States, as well as various parts of Spain and the Dominican Republic. In addition, his excellent 2010 album, The Truth Campaign, was entirely produced by French beatsmith Tha Truth Tella. Morris has shared stages with the likes of Dead Prez, Souls of Mischief, Kool Keith, Devin the Dude and Guante, among many others. He has also performed and led workshops at a number of schools in the U.S., from Columbia College on down to Ella Flagg Young Elementary School, where he presumably focused on his less raunchy verses. This activity points to his efforts to bring his unique style to everyone from inveterate Hip-Hop-heads to folks who normally don’t even like rap. As Morris himself says of rap, “I’m further than that, creatin’ snuff music with the way I’m murderin’ tracks.”

As innovative and complex as Morris’ rhymes are, perhaps the best way to experience his work is a live performance, where he blends his consummate rapping skill with a wildly expressive and idiosyncratic stage show. He is often known to engage the crowd directly, which may or may not include crowd-surfing while wearing a kilt, which he did at a recent show with Minneapolis-based “Hippie-Hop” collective Wookiefoot. His next live show is in Holyoke, Massachusetts, which he informs me is where volleyball was invented, and he has a new album in the works with Minneapolis-based Hip-Hop crew Wide Eyes (Morris has almost as big a fan base in Minneapolis s he does in his hometown of Chicago). In the meantime, I highly recommend picking up any or all of his four albums, especially The Truth Campaign and his latest full-length, Lady Liberty is Wasted, which is available on a sliding scale from free to whatever you want to contribute.

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